Alright, I need some info on BitTorrent, and I have a couple main question in mind:
1. How illegal is it?
2. I understand that it is a variation on peer-to-peer where if you are downloading something then theoretically another person could be downloading that same thing from you at the same time you are downloading it from someone else, so does that mean that other users have access to your hard drive/files?
3. What are the chances of getting caught?
4. What traces does it leave on your computer?
5. What are download times like?
And any thing else that you find relavent would help too
Things like this I know quite well.
1)Bittorrent is just a tool, and isn't illegal itself. It is just a method of file distribution. What you do with it does not have to be illegal, but in most cases it isn't used for the most legal of purposes.
2)It is a file-sharing program meaning what you allow to be shared, is what others have access to. In this case, it is only the file you are actively downloading or seeding. There are "cheating" clients that don't upload anything though.
3)Varies. Try downloading an obscure independent film and there will be no problems. Then try downloading the newest box office release on a very popular torrent site and you are pushing your luck.
4)I assume you mean traces left by actually downloading files. All that is there on your own computer is the file itself. Just deleting the file in a normal way could also still leave traces of that file and is a reason why they make special disk-wiping software for purposes of removing any traces of data. Also, your ISP logs IP and activity associated with that IP on their own servers.
5)Many things influence speed. Seed/peer ratio, the speeds of those seeds and peers, and your own transfer speed limits are the primary determinants. Also, things like a a firewall and configuration of the bittorrent client can also affect speeds. A "healthy" torrent will usually give very good speeds.